The superintendent of the Chicago Archdiocese’s Catholic Schools is resigning, church leaders announced Tuesday, less than six years after he took the role and amid a pandemic that continues to challenge schools.
Dr. Jim Rigg “informed us of his intention to transition away from his role,” the Archdiocese wrote in an email to clergy and staff announcing Rigg’s departure. Rigg, who has led Catholic Schools since the fall of 2015, will step down at the end of June.
In his own email to parents, Rigg didn’t mention any reason for his departure. He instead listed a few initiatives he considered to be accomplishments — among them the reopening of schools during the pandemic — and said “I feel that this is the right time to step away from my role and let another Superintendent come forward.”
“I am profoundly impressed by the quality and vitality of our Catholic schools, staffed by men and women of exceptional talent and commitment,” Rigg wrote. “I leave my role knowing that God will continue to work through our teachers, principals, and benefactors to ensure the continuation of this critical educational ministry.”
A spokesman said Rigg informed the Archdiocese of his resignation Tuesday. The Archdiocese School Board has formed a search committee and will conduct a national hunt for a new schools superintendent, leaders said.
“During this time, Jim led a ‘Renewal and Hope’ strategic plan for schools, leading to improvements in school Catholicity, academics, leadership and operations,” wrote Geno Fernandez, chair of the school board. “Importantly, Jim has helped our schools weather the unique challenges presented by the global pandemic, leading our principals and teachers as they maintained learning gains and upheld faith-filled education standards.
“On behalf of the School Board and entire Archdiocese of Chicago, we are grateful to Dr. Rigg for his dedication to Catholic education and to our students over the past five years and for his collaborative leadership during challenging times. We wish him well in his future endeavors and look forward to wishing him well in person when conditions allow.”
Rigg navigated rough financial waters in his tenure running the area’s Catholic schools, moving forward with controversial school closures and parish consolidations. Last year, Rigg shepherded a new $90 million partnership with a Catholic foundation that essentially handed off operational duties for 30 Chicago schools and helped keep a total of 58 schools running.
Rigg also faced criticism from teachers and some parents last fall for his move to reopen schools amid the pandemic — though many Catholic school families welcomed the option to return to in-person learning.